MSU XC earns long-awaited trip to NCAA national championship

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 6:58 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Minnesota State women’s cross country program is back on the national stage for the first time in nearly three decades after a remarkable top-3 finish in the NCAA DII Central Region Championships in Missouri on Saturday.

“They get out hard and just hold their position and work together and they did that,” 23-year MSU women’s cross country coach Jen Blue said.

In first week of November, the Mavericks made a statement in the NSIC championships coming in at second-place. Two weeks later, with much higher stakes, the group put together a third-place performance to earn a long-awaited trip to the national championship.

“I remember when we were doing pre-meet, one girl mentioned, remember why you started and that really stuck with me, because around that 3K-5K when you have 10 minutes left and you’re like ‘Oh my god, it’s really hard’ hearing that remember why you started really holds you on. That team bond when emotions are that high really matters,” shared MSU senior runner Alyssa Rauk.

“This group, and I’ve been doing this for a long time, is just tighter than any group I’ve ever seen and you see that in the performances and how they go to the wall together and support each other,” added Blue.

The comradery is a key tool for MSU to overcome the mental challenges K by K. The team is also relies on its depth, highlighted by senior Amanda Montplaisir who placed fifth in the regional championships with a time of of 20:23:00.

“Our seniors who are really part of our top 7 right now Amanda, McKenna [Thurston], Mackenzie [Gaherty] and Alyssa, they’ve brought a lot of maturity and growth and really taking the younger ones under their wing,” MSU assistant women’s cross country coach Kayla Evans said.

Entering the national competition in Seattle, the Mavericks are one of seven teams out of the central region who will be featured, four of which came from at-large bids.

“It’s tough competition, we know the seven teams from our region we’ve seen a few of the other teams at meets throughout the year. It’s tough,” said Blue. “We were 14th in the nation going into the region meet, so we’ll see where we’re at right now. I think if we keep doing what we’re doing, taking care of the little things, be comfortable being uncomfortable and just go out and compete, big things will happen.”

“I’m excited to run in the rain,” expressed Rauk. “It’s nothing that we haven’t been in. We’ve run in a couple rainy meets, so I’m excited and it’s going to be a little bit warmer.”

The championships will be held Dec. 2 at Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place, WA. The women’s race gets underway at 1:15 p.m.